People Who Say Such Things: My Soul Yearns for the Living God

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February 19, 2020

Psalm 84:1-4 (NIV)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

CONSIDER THIS

As we close out Genesis, the book of origins and biblical back story, it will be good to pause and make camp for a few days of remembrance, reflection and worship. This is what the Psalms do in and for us. For the next few days we will slowly walk our way through Psalm 84, a Psalm for the awakened—those who have left behind the conventions of predictable, domesticated religion and abandoned themselves to the goodness and mercy of God. People who say such things as the words of Psalm 84 have “set their heart on pilgrimage.” They have, in the words immortalized by Elvis Presley, “left the building.” 

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!

Speaking of leaving the building, we have become accustomed to think of this “dwelling place” as a building, a particular place one goes to worship. To be fair, the Psalmist does reference the Temple here; however, the Temple is itself a sign pointing to something far greater. Remember the banner text lifted up over this entire series:

14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:14-16. 

With the people of God, the roots didn’t grow downward; they grew upward. Herein lies the chief advantage of the Tabernacle over the Temple. The Tabernacle embodied the movement of God’s people. It was portable, defining the center of the community and yet moving with the community. Something about a permanent place centers the gravity in the place rather than in God. Something about us struggles with movement. We want it and yet we also want to “put down roots,” as the saying goes. 

The story of Genesis reveals a God who moves and who longs for his people to move with  him. 

2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

People who say such things show us that going to the so-called “place” of God can never be a substitute for seeking the face of God. We must come to tangibly grasp that the courts of the Lord are everywhere, all around us, all the time, and always open. In another Psalm, the psalmist speaks of entering the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. What is the sign that we have left the building of a comfortable, domesticated faith (which is not really faith at all)? Our heart and flesh cry out for the living God. The more of God we know, the more of God we long for. We long for a better country—a heavenly one. The question is not, “Are you longing for heaven,” but “Are you longing for a better country?” 

Perhaps the twin harbingers of a domesticated faith (which is hardly faith at all) are these: A temple mindset and a heaven mentality. 1. We want to settle down into a comfortable life of being blessed by God instead of struggling with God for the coming of his Kingdom, and 2. We primarily think of Heaven as the place we go when we die. This is the Christian faith harnessed to the American dream: A comfortable life now and eternal comfort after that. 

So how might we contrast the awakened life to this domesticated faith? Instead of a temple mindset, awakened faith holds a tabernacle mentality; ever moving with a God on the move. Instead of a heaven mentality, the awakened soul holds to an “on Earth as it is in Heaven” mindset. This is the Christian faith harnessed to the Kingdom vision: Eternal life now, in the presence and power of God, in the faith-filled struggle of laboring for “on Earth as it is in Heaven,” and a seamless crossing over at our death, ascending into the heavens, where we take a prime seat in the balcony of the communion of saints until the Kingdom comes in final glory. 

The question we must grapple with is this one: Do we want a captivating faith or will we settle for a faith in captivity? Do I long for an arresting demonstration of the Spirit of God in my life or will I succumb to arrested development of my soul? 

When Scripture says the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, it uses the language of “tabernacling.” The presence and power of God tabernacled in Jesus of Nazareth, and he wills to do the same through his Spirit in his people, the Body of Christ. We are the dwelling place of God. And there is infinite room for more to come inside. Even the whole Creation.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

People who say such things know they have already arrived and yet are still on the way, ever making room for more. And though the journey may get harder, it will also keep getting better. 

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

 THE PRAYER

Father, I want to be a person who says such things. My heart and flesh cry out for you, the Living God. Clarify my vision and shift my mentality and mindset. Shake me from my comfortable slumber. At least bring me to the consciousness that would require me to choose it over a life of awakened faith. I am so weary of the lazy, mediocre way of life that some want to call faith. I want the real thing and I will settle for nothing less. I want Jesus. Yes, Lord, my heart and flesh cry out for you. Come Holy Spirit, and train me be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

How do you relate to this contrast outlined in today’s reading between domesticated religion and awakened faith? Between a captivating life and a life in captivity? Can you honestly say this: “My soul yearns for the living God.” Do you want to be able to say it honestly? Be honest? ;0) 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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